Salsa Scoop> tag: ”blog:dia community“

Spotlight on CIVIC's perseverance through wintry economic times

by Jason Z.

The Washington Times ran an illuminating piece today on CIVIC, the Campaign for Innocent Victims In Conflict and one of our favorite Salsa users.  It's not only a heart-gladdening story to see CIVIC keep on keeping on, but underscores the perilous situation many small nonprofits are or soon may be facing.

CIVIC had nothing to do with crooked financier Bernard Madoff, but the relief organization was supported by the JEHT Foundation, a strongly progressive funder whose donor unfortunately fell prey to the Madoff Ponzi scheme.

That blow ultimately fell on CIVIC (and scores of other progressive nonprofits), and "illustrates how devastating the Madoff case has been for smaller charities" and has already resulted in one layoff on its four-person staff and the closure of its office.

CIVIC relies totally on grants from foundations and private donations, and that $50,000 grant [from the JEHT Foundation] was the only guaranteed money it had coming in for 2009. ...

The organization has a $350,000 budget. Compounding the problems is that donations are down about 40 percent, according to [Executive Director Sarah] Holewinski. She said CIVIC still needs about $200,000. Until a supporter in Europe gave a large donation last month, Ms. Holewinski said there was a real prospect that the organization would have to close entirely.

What a relief that CIVIC didn't close.

In this case, the Madoff-to-layoff chain is visibly apparent.  But the systematic pressure of depressed donations, an implacable statistical inevitability fed by a thousand minute tributaries -- that's the thing to watch out for.

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A Change of Address

by Jason Z.

You may have noticed, if you normally read this humble blog from, that it's become part of Salsa Commons. (Feed subscribers should have had the seamlessly -- no need to update.)

This is actually the second move for this blog, which now goes by the handle of Salsa Scoop and is part of the Salsa user space being created at the Commons.  We'll keep chattering away here, commenting on both Salsa developments and those in the wider world, but this is only one (relatively small) part of the Commons, which integrates such features as.

  • Dedicated blogs by our tech support guru and our new user
  • An ever-growing documentation space, including video
  • Strategic help, as well as technical how-to
  • Training event postings
  • Developer space to geek out with Salsa's robust API and its slick package development framework for independent programmers
  • User forums -- chew the fat with staff and fellow users on tips, tricks, workarounds, bug fixes, development priorities, or the price of rice in China

It's a major new enhancement of the Salsa community's resources.

There's a decent chance if you're reading this that you've had a whole bunch of e-mails about this site's deployment, so consider this another nudge.  But whether or not you check it out today, next time you click through on a blog post, that's where you'll be finding yourself.  We hope you'll stay and browse.

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Fundraising slideshow from DIA User Conference

One of the most popular panels at the DemocracyInAction User Conference was -- no surprise -- fundraising.

This information-dense presentation from OMP's Katherine Watier and Courtney Ussery had the whole room scribbling notes furiously. (More of Katherine's brilliance at her Search Marketing for Nonprofits blog.)

We'll be pulling this presentation and others together on Salsa Commons, but this highlight has been a hot ticket, so why wait?

Thanks again, Katherine and Courtney!

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Liveblogging Lessig

Lawrence Lessig ... speaking to a packed house at the DIA user conference keynote.

Lawrence Lessig at the DIA User Conference

(ot) Seating nailed down at the power strip oasis. Why are there never enough outlets? airports are a special offender in this ... or, maybe i should think about a computer with more than 30 seconds of battery life.

DIA board member Ed Walters with the intro.

So here's LL:

We need a "declaration of independence"

... we get stuck in the "pattern of 4ths ..." we wake up every four years, and then go back to sleep.

"our 'thursday night out'" + thunder sound effect. nice.

everything is focused on this one year, as if it can save us.

but ... of course it can't.

thesis: the framers failed. apostasy! what's next, Charles Beard???

ergo: "no golden past" ... we're much better today in many ways.

number of lobbyists and cost of lobbyists in 2000 have both doubled. (maybe that latter is the collapse of the dollar ...) -- business is willing to "invest" in them.

as he says that congress' approval rating is lower than bush's, a baby starts to cry.

"crony capitalism" is at the core of the government ... he calls this more subtle than Daniel Webster 19th century outright bribery. doesn't seem much more subtle to me.

"question people on the right need to ask is, how much extortion-enabling regulation is out there, and would public funding to elections stop it?"

but the left gets the wrong answers to the right questions. sort of vague on that one.

there are easy cases! his copyright extension case, of course, is one.

25% of our diet can come from sugar, according to the FDA, blowing off the WHO.

here's some photography:

Lawrence Lessig at the DIA User Conference

Lawrence Lessig at the DIA User Conference

global warming ... another easy question. contrasts popular media still treating global warming skepticism as legit vs. the scientific literature, and the harm of massively delaying any possible remediation.

after the example of world-screwing ecological catastrophe, saying that "trust" is the most fundamental problem caused by all this might be a little questionable...

telco immunity's up next ... democrats who switched on telco immunity got twice the contributions of dems who didn't.

"we need more than every four years in this quad-annual hope-fest" ... "we need something more sustained than this if we're to get change"

hence ... Change Congress ("[beta]" ... nice.)

references Creative Commons, which the above pictures are posted in.

so, change congress is about:

1. no $ from lobbyists/pacs
2. reform "earmarks"
3. support public finance of public elections
4. support total transparency

cites Barack Obama getting the DNC to pledge not to take lobbyist money. (where does he stand on obama's no-public-financing move? does he give any credence to the line that public financing of elections as a baseline value is obsolete?)

he says he "flung" himself from california last night at 2 in the morning. how lame am i to be hung over after the mere salsa party last night?

"there is a flaw at the core of the people's house ... that flaw is dependence. we need to change that dependency. but we won't change it through the quadannual practice of thursdays." -does he mean tuesdays? i'm totally not getting the reference. i should probably get out more.

compares it to alcoholism ... you have to solve the alcohol problem before you can do anything else -- so it's not necessarily the *worst* problem, it's the *first*, most fundamental problem.


into the Q&A

-first question is on obama and the public financing. glad i wasn't the only one who caught that.

"do i have to answer that question?" -- justifies it as realpolitik because of those dirty-fighting 527s. guarded concern ... concern that it erodes confidence in whether obama is really about hope we can believe in. hmmm.

lessig is "absolutely 100% convinced that this is what he believes in, public funding for public elections" -- not every pol can realize this obama effect of demokratichny internet-driven big-money-out campaigns.

lessig remains very pro-obama, and troubled by what others will see from this change -- and the telco change, which i hope was someone's pending question. "the world doesn't need to see this kind of change." ... but he's unconditionally backing obama.

-to the next question, he adds that he *does* think the move to distributed small-dollar fundraising is progress ... and that leads to "dependency" on "the people" which is what the framers wanted. a couple of endlessly debatable propositions there, too.

moots anonymizing donations as a parallel solution to the anonymous ballot ...

-doesn't think he's necessarily going to succeed (also true of copyright work) ... he has the luxury of being a tenured professor. fewer and fewer of those in these days of academic proletarianization ...

but he actually thinks the Change Congress mission is not that far necessarily from succeeding. could happen within three years if everything breaks right!

-question about reform of corporate statutes -- the "corporate persons" power to act against the public interest.

ll responds, essentially, that the supreme court isn't going to change that stuff. proposes that destroying the power of the corporation to have disproportionate influence on the process is another road to the same destination.

Lawrence Lessig at the DIA User Conference

DIA's own Jeanette Russell asks what progressives can do now to help...

Lessig gives an admittedly geeky answer -- support/use/build open source software as an infrastructure for reform.

"we have about eight years when we understand the code, the technology, better than they do. and there's a potential to leverage it in a surprising way ... we've got to do it now and we need to do it quickly ..."

Very nice question from Tauna at Connecticut Parent Power about crossing ideological/partisan divides instead of being the same people talking to the same people.

ll: reform won't come from democrats alone, nor partisans alone -e.g., "good for them" (the Republicans) being stronger on earmarks.

ll was born and raised a republican, youngest member of the convention that elected Ronald Reagan. "I did not know that," as Walter Sobchak said.

his pitch to republicans is that getting money out is an investment to make it *possible* for them to downsize government and, you know, drown it in a bathtub.

"people on the right" are "people too" ... "i used to be one of them!"

question about whether there are some more fundamental things at work here in the human capacity to do this stuff.

ll remarks that institutions of government are hundreds of years old. echoes his past lines on the "code" in the constitution ... e.g., his media reform conference presentation, which we've posted before ...

-in america, "you can actually shame the members of government." (well ... some of them.)

last question is from "a lobbyist for a nonprofit" -- "would we exist?"

-ll embraces some role for lobbyists ... for providing information, helping legislators do things they want to do anyway, but draw the line at the bribery/extortion racket.

that's it for LL ... lots of people over to talk to him on the side after a huge ovation.


apropos of nothing, this is a very short excerpt of his remarks on telco immunity earlier.

... and, for no particular reason, a slide he used of "the people" (or was it "poor people", contra the ones who can buy influence?) (artwork genesis unknown ...)

Slide from Lawrence Lessig presentation at the DIA User Conference

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Still a few more seats at the user conference -- book 'em by Friday

Monday's registration deadline for the DIA user conference has passed, but you might have noticed you can still get to the registration page. Here's the deal: there are about a dozen spots left. We'd like to fill them, but we also need to have a final-final head count for the hotel by the end of the week. So registration is going to be held open to tomorrow, Friday, June 20. That's the stone-cold, after-the-deadline deadline; we won't be able to handle on-site registrations, so if you're still juggling plans or otherwise uncertain, get in touch with us and let us know what's up no later than tomorrow.

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Lawrence Lessig to Keynote DIA User Conference June 27

This. Is. Hot. Lawrence Lessig, Stanford law professor, free culture paladin, social change advocate -- man, in short, about the technology activist town -- has just been officially confirmed to keynote the upcoming DemocracyInAction Community Conference. The conference takes place June 26-27 in downtown Washington, D.C.; Lessig will address the morning plenary on Friday, June 27th on "Change Congress". Maybe you caught him at the recent National Conference on Media Reform? You'll find him on the expanded agenda also just released. Did we mention (repeatedly?) that that's on top of two days' wall-to-wall Salsa training, online strategizing, and elbow rubbing with the best and brightest? Did we mention there are only three days left to register?

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Not to keep harping on the DIA User Conference, but this is the last week to register for the DIA User Conference

Don't put it off another day -- register now! The speakers list is coming together, and dang if it isn't a fine one. Rub elbows with the likes of:
  • Marty Kearns (Green Media Toolshed, Net-centric Campaigns)
  • Judith Freeman (New Organizing Institute)
  • Marc Laitin (Consultant)
  • Colin Delany (e.politics)
  • Jenn Smith (Watershed)
  • Allyson Kapin (Rad Campaign)
  • David Taylor (Radical Designs)
  • Rosalyn Lemieux  (Consultant)
  • Alan Rosenblatt (Center for American Progress)
  • Trina Zahller (Oil Change International)
And crib organizing notes from the best and brightest, like
  • MomsRising
  • Center for American Progress
  • Oceana
  • 1SkyBrave
  • Step It Up
  • Oil Change International
  • True Majority
  • Genocide Intervention Network
  • Code Pink
Did we mention that you're running out of time to register?

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Have You Registered for the DIA User Conference Yet?

Last-minute shoppers, the June 16 deadline for registration is fast approaching. Maybe you've been busy. Haven't had time yet. Been waiting on a few things to fall into place. We've all been there. But the calendar has rolled over to June and space is limited, so now's the time to make the time to register.

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Looks Like a Duck, Walks Like a Duck, Podcasts Like a Duck

Smart New York City communications consultant Big Duck -- DIA hearts Big Duck -- has been paddling into the wonderful world of podcasting on nonprofit communications. It's a nice addition to their "resources" section, well worth grazing for articles. There's a fresh one posted this week called "Taglines -- your org in seven words or less".

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Salsa Commons Debuts

Salsa Commons, a new common site for all organizations using the Salsa toolset whether through DemocracyInAction or anywhere else, debuted today. At the moment, what you'll see is a user manual, which is (in ascending order of importance):
  • A massive update from the previous manual available, which had become dated in several key areas;
  • An easily updatable wiki that will serve as a living document we can update and add to as we build;
  • The kernel of a much larger project to build in other kinds of documentation, peer-to-peer knowledge sharing, and a panoply of other resources.
We've been talking about launching this vessel so long, it's sweet to smash the champagne. It comes with a new feedback address -- documentation at Tell us there, here, or anywhere what you think!

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